Targeting utilities: Energy
Utilities are a cost that’s incurred every month, there’s no getting around it. But, are you doing everything that you can to operate your house efficiently, and thus to keep your utility costs down? This article is going to look at some of the best ways to target your energy bill, to try to significantly lower it by simply being more efficient.
One of the best things about maximizing energy efficiency is that it doesn’t just help out your wallet, it also helps out the environment. You can sleep well knowing that you’ve helped yourself, and the world around you.
Let’s look together now at some of the best ways to keep your home energy efficient.
Make a list of the major energy items in your household
Whatever your living situation is, there are several items in your house that are probably on the “big ticket” end of the energy game. These items are frequently used, and cost more energy than other items. Let’s look at a list:
- Air conditioning units (depending on size) $534 per year
- Ceiling fans $11 per year
- Electric kettles $20 per year
- Water heater $593 per year (electric ones)
- Washers $78 per year
- Dryers $203 per year
These items each have ways to use them more efficiently, whether just by researching peak times and operating outside of them (as with the washer and dryer) or by replacing them with more energy efficient appliances that use power more effectively.
These statistics are also unable to track directly the cost to you of all the money you lose just by leaving things “on” (the coffee maker, the tv, the computer, and so on).
Consider energy efficiency items
Appliances, particularly older appliances, function as a huge drain on our energy resources. Recently people have been moving more and more openly toward the use of energy efficiency products.
But are they really so efficient?
The short answer is: that depends. Consider the following questions before you rush out to buy all new appliances.
Questions to assess your need
- Do you need the item? Could you do without it?
- Does it fit within your home?
- How long will you keep it?
- How will you get rid of it?
- What is its energy star rating?
- Will the higher cost of the item pay off in its savings int he long term?
Energy Star Ratings
Energy Star Ratings are an effective measurement of the energy efficiency of an item. Statistics have proved that using items like an energy efficient dishwasher can save you up to 30% on the running costs of that appliance every year.
Consider the ratings when purchasing a new item, and if you see an item that’s rated more efficiently, know that it will save you money in the long term.
How does your behavior play into it all?
The truth is that you can buy whatever appliance you want, but if you leave it running all the time your energy bill will still be substantial. This is indicative of a simple fact many of us know but try to ignore: it’s our behavior that has to change as much as it is the appliances around us.
There are tips and tricks for behavior changes you might want to consider making below, they should be used as guidelines. Experiment with them, see what it does to your energy bill.
- Dishwashers are most efficient if they “front load” rather than top loaders.
- LED screens are more efficient than Plasma
- Old dishwasher appliances are less effective than not only new dishwashers, but also than hand washing the dishes
- Washing machines and dryers can be a lower cost if you simply operate outside of peak hours, do research to find out what they are in your particular area.
Tips directly from NSW Government
- Clean door seals on dishwashers, and fridges periodically to ensure that they are closing properly
- Clean filters on washers and dryers to keep them running at their best
- Don’t leave the TV running all day (the television can be about as energy efficient as a fridge)
- Drying clothes manually instead of using a dryer saves hundreds of dollars per year
- Turn off surge protectors when none of the devices are in use
- Wash clothing in cold water whenever possible
These tips are based on efficiency research. Try them out and see what happens to your energy bill, because I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
There are other things you can do to optimize your home (solar power, wind power, etc.), but these are smaller scale tips to get you started, even if you can’t quite afford your panels just yet.